© U.S Department of Education
This is an opinion column.
During my sophomore year of high school, I took a mandatory health class.
What did I learn? Well, I learned that Alabama’s approach to sex education should be a crime.
One of our required assignments was to print out a piece of paper saying that we would remain abstinent and forcibly say “no” when faced with any scenario that could lead to sex, and pin it on our wall.
We didn’t learn about rape or sexual assault, we didn’t learn about contraception and we definitely didn’t learn about sex, let alone inclusive sex. We were told of the bare minimum about STDs and teen pregnancy.
Even though abstinence-only sex ed is looked down upon by health professionals everywhere, Congress has spent over $2 billion on abstinence-only programs between 1982 and 2017, according to Columbia Public Health.
Even worse, only twenty-two states require that sex or HIV education, if provided, be medically, factually or technically accurate, according to The National Conference of State Legislatures.
Let’s get this straight: whether you like it or not, teenagers are going to engage in sexual activity and have sexual intercourse. Since that’s the case, why wouldn’t you want them to know about STIs, contraception, consent, assault, etc.?
It’s understandable that you would want your kid to hold off on having sex. However, denying them any type of information regarding sex isn’t going to prevent them from having it, and if anything, it’s going to make them more susceptible to rape, pregnancy, and STIs.
It’s selfish of parents and teachers to deny children proper sex education. You’re not just denying them education about sex, you’re denying them education about their bodies, how they use them, how they take care of them and how they set boundaries with them when it comes time to engage in any type of sexual activity.
Did you know what to expect before you hit puberty? Were you ever confused about certain parts of your body and how they functioned? Were you encouraged to explore your own body? Did you know what to expect before you had sex for the first time? Did you learn about consent? Did you learn about STIs?
I know too many people that have answered no to all of these questions.
Sex education isn’t encouraging your child to go out and have sex; it exists to teach your child about consent, STIs, contraception, and a healthy relationship with their own body and others.
Why is that such a bad thing?
That being said, we should work towards sex ed reform and give kids a chance to learn about things that will impact their future.
Let’s reduce the amount of abstinence-based sex ed and aim for the kind of education that children will actually learn from in order to keep themselves and others safe when it comes time for them to experience puberty or engage in sexual activity.
Edited by Madison Goodgame & Diane Mwai